Martha of Bethany Wins 2019 Golden Halo!

The Supreme Executive Committee of Lent Madness congratulates Martha of Bethany for winning the 2019 Golden Halo. Martha became the 10th saint to wear the golden crown by defeating the inspiring runner up Pandita Ramabai. She joins previous Golden Halo winners George Herbert (2010), C.S. Lewis (2011), Mary Magdalene (2012), Frances Perkins (2013), Charles Wesley (2014), Francis of Assisi (2015), Dietrich Bonhoeffer (2016), Florence Nightingale (2017), and Anna Alexander (2018).

To help celebrate Martha's victory, we've invited the creative geniuses who have shared their talents throughout this holy season to honor the Golden Halo winner. We're delighted they answered the call!

Sr. Diana Doncaster has penned one final hymn in her growing saintly hymnal:

What fun among Saints when Lent Madness deploys;
We give them excuses to smile and rejoice.
They smile when we learn and share and long to grow;
And gladly sing praises when love among us flows.  

Today is the day when we learned what they knew;
St. Martha’s the one won; the halo is her due.
A hostess, a servant, Confessor, Christ’s Saint.
No one could not love her; rejoice without constraint.

With Martha we grow to trust Christ’s holy grace.
It’s fine to set work down to listen as he says;
“One final commandment I now give anew,
To love one another as I have loved you.” 

How Firm a Foundation - Hymn 636 or 637 – (Whichever tune you like better) 

John Cabot has graced us with a last limerick:

In spite of His early admonishing
Yet Martha displays faith astonishing.
As a fitting reward
For that trust in our Lord:
A Halo that never needs polishing!

And Michael Wachter offers his final show tune of the season (how did he manage this each day?!), setting it up for us thusly:

Martha of Bethany deserves a special musical tribute to commemorate her Golden Halo victory. Her song chronicles her journey from resentful housekeeper and sister to theologian to miracle-working dragon tamer - in France. Which tune would be most appropriate to sing her praise? Why, "It's a Hard-Knock Life" from "Annie," of course!

It’s a servant’s life for me,
Living here in Bethany!
‘Stead of playing, I get work.
Mary always get the perks.
It’s a hard-knock life.

Set the table, serve the meat,
While she lies at Jesus’ feet!
I complain I (clap-clap) get no rest.
Jesus tells me, (clap-clap) “She chose best!”
It’s a hard-knock life.

When you feel like your life has bitter fragrance
‘Cause your hair smells of sweat and never nard.
You can bear it and work up your impatience;
Complaining how your life is very hard.

Jesus praises your sister who’s a slacker.
Calls you out though you’re giving it your all.
Freud’s not born yet, and still you reexamine
That by serving others you have heard God’s Call.

Mary goes Round One.
Nicodemus done.
Well Girl’s luck runs dry.
Gobnait’s stung. Oh, my!

Santa Claus, I’ll never see –
Never made it to Round Three.
I’ve embraced my destiny:
Cinderella – First Cent’ry.
Love my serving life!

I gotta stay up till this dump shines like the Ark of the Covenant.


When my brother up and died,
On the road while Mary cried.
Raise him if my faith sufficed.
“I believe you are the Christ!”

After Pentecost’s events,
Go to France. We’re mission bent.
Miracles in Jesus’ name
And that dragon that I tamed.
Golden Halo life!
Golden Halo life!
Gol! Den! Ha! Lo! life!

What’s nearly as important as announcing the Golden Halo winner? Sharing the Lentorium link to the winner’s swag! Be the first one on your block to order the official Martha of Bethany 2019 Golden Halo Winner Mug. Your brand new mug will ship later this spring in plenty of time for you to serve your friends warm beverages, just like Martha would do.

Want to nominate a saint for Lent Madness 2020? Tim and Scott will be opening up the week-long nomination process (aka Nominationtide) in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Finally, blessings to all as we head into the Triduum and enter into the death and resurrection of our Lord. It’s been a privilege to have you join us on our Lenten pilgrimage!


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104 comments on “Martha of Bethany Wins 2019 Golden Halo!”

  1. Thank you to the SEC and all involved for a glorious Lent Madness. Also, I am touched by all of the comments I received throughout this competition. My heart is full. Let’s end Lent Madness with an encore sung to the tune of “Seasons of Love” from “Rent.” Have a blessed Triduum and a Joyous Easter Season!

    No Sundays. Fifty-seven thousand six-hundred minutes.
    No Sundays. Fifty-seven thousand times to repent.
    No Sundays. Fifty-seven thousand six-hundred minutes.
    How do you measure the Madness of Lent?

    In brackets, in scorecards
    In bios, celebrity bloggers
    In quotes and in quirks,
    In kitsch, Tim, and Scott.

    With-out Sundays. Fifty-seven thousand six-hundred minutes.
    Put it together and what have you got?

    How about Lent?
    How about Lent?
    How about Lent?
    Madness of Lent.
    Season of Lent
    Season of Lent

    No Sundays. Fifty-seven thousand six-hundred minutes.
    No Sundays. Fifty-seven thousand (We did the math…)
    No Sundays. Fifty-seven thousand six-hundred minutes.
    How do you measure the life of a saintly person’s path?

    In truths that they preached?
    Or the hungry satisfied?
    In souls that they reached?
    Were they martyred when they died?

    It's time now for fasting,
    Giving alms, and penitence.
    Let's lie prostrate –
    Recall forty days in this time of Lent.

    Remember the Lent
    (You got to pray, fast and practice abstinence.)
    Remember the Lent
    (You know that Lent is a time of penitence.)
    Remember the Lent
    (Share alms. Spread alms. Give alms.)
    Madness of Lent
    (Measure, measure your life in Lents.)

    Seasons of Lent
    Seasons of Lent

    1. My church, St. David’s in Austin, TX, encouraged us to participate in Lent Madness and supplied the book for us. I enjoyed it and learned so much. It was a perfect foil to our study of Luke’s Gospel. Thank you for providing such a great learning experience.

  2. So now our journey’s ending, Easter’s promise shining clear:
    In peace each saint has kissed their late antagonist!
    My blessings, fellow pilgrims, in your dwellings far and near;
    On this I do insist: you will be sorely missed!
    So now this week’s contention let me recapitulate:
    Bee-set by bogus ballots, Martha barely beat Gobnait.
    Next Ramabai stepped forward onto poor Zenaida’s toe.
    Then Martha faced Pandita — Golden Halo, yes or no?
    A sweep this year for Martha: how she’s polished off the list!
    Though “better part” she missed — she dusted off that list!

    She polished off the list — she dusted off that list;
    Regardless of that list — Lent Madness will persist!

  3. It's been a wonderful journey. My thanks to the organizers and to all those who lightened each day with their poetic and musical talent. I've learned so much and look forward to next year's discoveries.
    As we enter the Triduum and the Easter season, may the coming days be a time of renewal for us all.

  4. I can't tell you how happy this makes me. I got distracted during Lent Madness but somehow I was always around to vote for Martha. She was always on my mind these 40 days. Made me think of her differently. Made me appreciate the doer in myself. My mom lived a motto, which I articulated after she passed: "SEE what needs to be done and DO it". It's a simple motto, a good philosophy of life - the easiest and hardest thing to do. Congratulations to Martha and all the Marthas out there!

  5. Hate to see it end! It has been wonderful with musical talent demanding and limericks outstanding. Greeting long distance friends every day, waiting to see what they have to say.
    And I feel somewhat vindicated in that Martha was the one and only winner I voted for in the entire Lenten Madness. To all the other players I hope to see you again.

    1. Bridget won the Silver Halo - which I hope Pandita Ramabai will also receive.
      So many worthy saints!

      1. I have once again thoroughly enjoyed Lent Madness and am grateful to the organizers for all their tremendous work and the participants for their thoughtful voting.

        I must admit I feel a bit like one of those college tourney fanatics who crumples her bracket in frustration — is it terrible to admit I’ve always found Martha of Bethany annoying and voted against her every single round only to see her crowned with the Golden Halo???? That’s why they call it Madness I suppose and it makes me think that perhaps I need to join Martha in the kitchen and get to know her better....

        1. I'm with you, Tamara--except for the kitchen part. I'm too old for that so will just sit quietly in the rocking chair...

  6. How exciting for Saint Martha of Bethany, Golden Halo Champion! Congratulations - I can not wait to drink from your mug and share it with others. I'll be ordering today, if possible. I was not there when you were cooking and cleaning and all that jazz, so I am not positive about this, but it is at least possible that you, Martha, and your sister, Mary Magdalen, are the only sisters who have both won Golden Halos! I'm so proud of you both and happy to "know" and love you. Happy Easter, dear Martha, Martha, Martha!

    1. As it turns out, Mary Magdalene is not the same Mary as Mary of Bethany, who faced her sister Martha of Bethany back on "Ash Thursday" (7 March) in the opening round of this year's Madness,. Though our Lord said Mary of Bethany had chosen the better part, a better part of the vote, 58%, was awarded to Martha of Bethany and only 42% to Mary of Bethany.

      The only other sibling face off that I can remember is 2014 winner Charles Wesley besting his brother John Wesley in one of the rounds of LM that year.

      Have any other sibling pairs competed?

  7. I will definitely be ordering a Golden Halo coffee mug, probably more than one. Mazel tov, St. Martha of Bethany!

  8. Alternately verklempt and giggling, I'll be fondly remembering this year's madness and humming "Seasons of Lent" well into the foreseeable future. Sorry it's done, but looking forward to my Martha mug. Thanks, everybody!

  9. Wonderful! I love Martha, She is definitely MY Saint too! So happy I was able to cast a vote for her Golden Halo! Off to order Mug.

    1. First time I picked a winner. I am a winner too, I learned of many inspirational people of God. Thank you bloggers for your lessons.

  10. Thanks all you hard working, remarkably witty and faithful people for keeping my heart joyously in Lent another year. My favorite Saint Paula of Rome raises my hopes, only to fade late. But no one but no one can argue with the overall excellence of Martha's triumph. I truly appreciate all of the work that makes this possible.

  11. Whoo-hoo! Thanks for the fun, everyone. Have a blessed Triduum and a very Happy Easter! Going to order my Martha mug, now.

    1. If you go to and click on "Bravket 2019" in the menu, you can see all the scores from this year for each matchup.

  12. This was the most innovative lent process. I missed 5 in round one, but was perfect after that. I am a servant, just like Martha. Congratulations to her and those of us who serve.

  13. As usual, this was a fantastic season of Lent Madness. Between the show tunes (oh Lord, Michael Wachter, you are so very gifted) and hymn tunes (I give thanks for the continual sharing of your talents, Sister Diana) and limericks, the cold winter and somber season went by so quickly. And we all learned about some devoted and faithful servants. Thanks to everyone for sharing your incredible gifts and wittiness. May all have a blessed Easter.

  14. What a wonderful ride! Thank you all--bloggers, lyricists, all you who sent in comments.
    And hooray for Martha, for whom I voted all through the contest, for showing us that kvetchers can be "...saints of God, and I mean to be one, too." (A saint, not a kvetcher. As much.)
    See you next year!

  15. Thank you for what was simply the best Lent Madness ever! As something of a broadway musicals nerd, I adored these songs, which added such a memorable dimension, and the great limericks as well! And - I believe this is the first year that my choices came out on top on almost every round; Martha was my top choice from the beginning. Wow! Can’t wait to get the mug. Blessings to one and all!

  16. A fun and enjoyable learning experience for my family. We looked forward each day to reading about these saintly people. My son I shouted with joy this morning as Martha of Bethany won.
    My mother’s name was Martha. She served others all her life. Here’s to looking ahead to 2020!

  17. Casey's 5th grade Clams truly enjoyed this years foray into the spiritual realm of the Saints! Familiar or newly met, we learned a great deal, and had O so much fun voting, and reading/singing through the comments of the faithful. Thanks for another terrific Lent Madness experience!
    Deo Gratis:)

      1. I would guess that Casey Clams is a teacher of fifth-graders, and has thus given "clams" as the class nickname. It's fun when the teacher's name can be used as the mascot 🙂

  18. The end of another amazing Lent Madness. THANK YOU to Tim, Scott and all the celebrity bloggers. Looking forward to the 2020 nominees.

  19. Oh, I don’t want this to be over!! Thank you, Tim and Scott, for starting this wonderful crazy thing and keeping it going every year. Thank you, Celebrity Bloggers for your insightful and inciteful mini-essays every day, the art, and the kitsch. Thank you, unsung heroes of the Lent Madness team at Forward Movement. Thank you to John, Michael, and Diana, and various other limericists whose names I regretfully I do not remember. . (Michael, as a fellow musical fan, merci beaucoup beaucoup beaucoup! I didn’t think you could sustain it every single day, but by George, you did it! Indeed you did! And two today?! Madness!)

    Finally, thanks to this whole community for your dedication, your faithful engagement with the stories, and for making the LM comments section the safest place to share on the Internet. I will miss hearing from you. We don’t all agree, but we can talk about it in love. How refreshing!

    I wish you all well until we meet again. Bee safe, bee good, bee crazy!!

    1. Like! (who needs a button?) I agree wholeheartedly with all these sentiments.

  20. Another great year of Lent madness! Always enjoy the positive education and thanks for making Lent less gloomy!

  21. My mother and I live on different continents, and Lent Madness has been a fun way for us to keep in touch almost every day as we traded who we voted for and why. It seems a teensy bit unfair that Martha had the advantage of having a lot more namesakes to vote for her, but I hope the many people who identified with Martha and seem to have felt the sting of injustice at Jesus' rebuke now feel vindicated. I think my spiritual exercise in these last holy days before Easter will be to discover where I personally can draw inspiration from her example. I'll probably have to stop muttering first! 😉